Regarding becoming President, the totality of the office and the responsibilities can be eye opening, even if you were previously minutes away from becoming President. Shortly after taking the oath of office, Truman spoke to reporters: “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don’t know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.” Not exactly an inaugural address, but then sometimes there is no inaugural. (Photo shows Truman, Stalin and Winston Churchill at the Potsdam Conference).
In my last post, I mentioned the first landing on a ship made by Eugene Ely. I didn’t have a very good photo of the landing or of Eugene Ely, but here’s a couple. So the LSO’s comments were appropriate.
You should also note Ely was wearing an improvised life vest composed of bicycle tubes over his coat. And you’ll notice he is wearing a very small wrist watch. So therein lies the truth about why he was never brought into the Navy as a Naval Aviator or became a fighter pilot.
Thesaurus Day celebrates/honors/proclaims/observes/reveres the birthday/natal day/name day of the author of Roget’s Thesaurus, Peter Roget, who was born/entered the world/first breathed on January 18, 1779. Roget was a British physician, natural theologian and lexicographer. His first thesaurus was released to the public on 29 April 1852. The original edition had 15,000 words, and each new edition has been larger.
Tis the season of Presidential pardons and the commuting of sentences. Several prominent figures had their sentences commuted over the last week or so. On January 19, 1977, President Gerald Ford pardoned Tokyo Rose. Several Japanese women broadcast Axis propaganda over the radio to Allied troops during World War II. One Japanese-American woman named Iva Toguri eventually became synonymous the name Tokyo Rose. She broadcast sentimental American music and phony announcements regarding U.S. troop losses in a vain attempt to destroy the morale of Allied soldiers. An American citizen born in Los Angeles, Toguri was in Japan at the time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. She graduated from UCLA in 1940 and hoped to become a doctor, but when an elderly aunt living in Japan became ill, Toguri’s family sent Toguri to take care of her. She left the United States in July 1941 carrying an identification card, but no passport. When rumblings of war between Japan and the U.S. reached a crescendo later that year, she tried to return to the U.S. but was denied because she did not have proof of citizenship. Upon her capture in 1945, Toguri insisted that she was forced into her traitorous role by the Japanese government and swore that she had never broadcast false military reports, limiting her shows to light musical fare while smuggling food and medicine to the Allied POWs. Nevertheless, Toguri was labeled a traitor. After a year’s imprisonment in Japan, Toguri was released and returned to the United States, only to be promptly re-arrested for treason.
The judge, sentenced her to 10 years in prison and fined her $10,000. She was released early in 1956 for good behavior, but was immediately given an order deporting her back to Japan. Over the next 20 years, Toguri fought for a pardon from three presidential administrations with the help of family members, attorneys and the POWs she had helped at Radio Tokyo. President Ford pardoned her just prior to his leaving office.
In 20 January 1914, Lieutenant John Henry Towers led 9 officers and 23 enlisted men, with 7 aircraft, portable hangars and other gear from the aviation unit at Annapolis to Pensacola, Fla to set up the first naval aviation training unit. Then on April 20, 1914, Towers led the first naval aviation unit called into action with the Fleet. He and two other pilots, 12 enlisted men and three aircraft sailed from Pensacola aboard the cruiser Birmingham in response to the Tampico Affair. Being a Lieutenant is the best job in the Navy. Towers qualified as a pilot in August 1911, flying the Navy’s first airplane, a Curtiss A-1 seaplane. Towers next traveled to North Island in San Diego, California where, in conjunction with the Curtiss Flying School, he took part in developing and improving naval aircraft types.
In October 1911, Towers achieved a distance record, flying an A-1 from Annapolis, Maryland, to Old Point Comfort, Virginia, a distance of 112 miles in 122 minutes. In the fall of 1912, Towers supervised the establishment of the Navy’s first aviation unit, based at Annapolis. On October 6, 1912, he achieved an American endurance record by rigging extra gasoline tanks to a Curtiss A-2 seaplane, allowing him to remain aloft for 6 hours, ten minutes, 35 seconds.
(Photo left: Early Naval Aviators: Towers is seated second from left. Glenn Curtiss at controls. Theodore Ellyson at the nose wheel of the plane). From October to December 1912, Towers conducted tests to spot submerged submarines from the air over the Chesapeake Bay. He furthered those tests into 1913 during fleet operations near Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Additionally, he investigated the potential for Navy aerial reconnaissance, bombing, photography, and communications. Lieutenant Commander Towers, while assigned to the aviation desk under CNO, is credited with the development of the Naval Aviators badge, which were designed and ordered in 1917. On January 19, 1918, distribution of the first gold Naval Aviator wings began, and it is likely that Towers, as Senior Naval Aviator in Washington at the time, was an early, if not the earliest, recipient. He commanded USS Langley, the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, from January 1927 to August 1928. He received a commendation for “coolness and courage in the face of danger” when a gasoline line caught fire and burned on board the carrier in December 1927. Towers personally led the vigorous and successful effort to suppress the flames kindled by the explosion and thus averted a catastrophe. He and Marc Mitscher were the only early Naval Aviation pioneers to survive the extreme hazards of early flight to remain with naval aviation throughout their careers. He was the first naval aviator to achieve flag rank and was the most senior advocate for naval aviation during a time when the Navy was dominated by battleship admirals. Towers spent his last years supporting aeronautical research and advising the aviation industry.
Minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th president of the United States, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, iIran, are released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis. And in addition to Ronald Regan’s and Donald Trump’s inauguration, several other President’s took that most famous oath of office on January 20th‘s; among them: Richard Nixon, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.